Saturday night’s hockey game between the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs and the Denver Pioneers is going to be more than skates slashing across the ice and stick slapping.
It’s a chance for the community to come together to show their appreciation for members of the armed forces and veterans.
Students in Mary Tripp’s public relations class at the University of Wisconsin-Superior has been working for several weeks with the American Red Cross in Duluth to plan an "Ovation to Veterans" during the Saturday, Nov. 9, hockey game at Amsoil Arena.
“We would like people to bring a picture of a veteran during the ovation to hold up,” said Sarah Birkeland, a marketing and finance major from Duluth.
Before and during the game, people will have a chance to sign a banner to show their appreciation for veterans and send messages in holiday cards that will be sent to service members overseas as part of the Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
There will be plenty of pens on hand, said Dan Williams, executive director of the Red Cross in Duluth.
Then, during one of the intermissions in the game, the real recognition happens — a standing ovation for veterans and a message from Duluth and Superior mayors played on the big screen.
Birkeland said she was impressed when they went to shoot the video of Duluth Mayor Emily Larson and Superior Mayor Jim Paine.
“They already had a message,” Birkeland said. “It was like perfect. They’re always prepared.”
Marilla Hanson, a finance major from Las Cruces, N.M., said the biggest hurdle was getting everyone on the same page because there were so many moving parts.
“From an instructor’s perspective, what I’ve really enjoyed about watching this team is how they play to each other's strengths,” Tripp said. For example, she said, Kohlton White, a dual marketing and information technology major from McGregor, Minn., had the technology and IT skills needed to execute the plan.
“I took the project on and I’m happy that I did it because it’s such meaningful work. I have a strong military family background, and to be able to be working with the Red Cross for that as well as getting some real-world experience is really cool,” said Kiiera Anderson, a marketing major from Cromwell, Minn.
“It’s also been a really good way to get in touch with the community,” said Erin Zondervan, an accounting major from Willmar, Minn.
But it was also a learning experience for students.
“I would say my biggest takeaway would be getting everyone on board to one single plan,” Anderson said, adding that can be hard.
You have to be willing to scrap everything you’re working on as things change, Hanson said.
Williams said he appreciated that willingness.
“It’s painful,” he said. “I’ve supervised employees and volunteers for a long time.” He said it’s never easy to tell someone that something they’ve been working on for a long time is being scrapped for an alternative.
Other students participating in the project include Sam Stoughton, a marketing major from Champlin, Minn., and Rachel Engstrom, a marketing major from Superior.
“To be able to access the perspectives and energy of these young people in advancing the mission of the Red Cross is invaluable, Williams said. “As a UWS graduate myself, it makes me proud to see the great students continuing on that same path — these are some great young leaders.
"To see how much these young people really do appreciate our veterans should make us all take note. Are each of us doing all we can?"